Update: 27 December 2019 – Have now received confirmation of a refund from A2 Hosting.
At the same time of setting up my Digital Ocean droplet as part of the Early December site move, created an account with A2 Hosting on their shared “turbo” server (with “Performance Plus” add on), drawn in by the positive reviews on Webhostingtalk and their up to “20x faster” marketing along with their 66.6% off Black Friday Specials
I copied NUI.NZ to both a Digital Ocean Droplet and to my account on A2 Hosting (both at their respective Singapore data centers) to begin comparing the two. After some testing, discovered that the Digital Ocean droplet performed faster for my use case in terms of responsiveness, speed and consistency.
NUI.NZ on Digital Ocean loaded up in 3.2 seconds on Average.
NUI.NZ on A2 Hosting shared turbo loaded up in 3.9 seconds on Average (with Caching enabled and A2 Optimisation plug in installed) but was bursty / less consistent and felt so much less snappy and responsive overall.
A2 Hosting’s marketing had led me to believe that I would have access to 2 CPU cores and 3GB of RAM on a burst basis versus the 1 CPU and 1GB set up with my 5 USD/month Digital Ocean VPS droplet.
Additionally, setting up their A2 Optimisation plugin they had developed for WordPress and then clicking “Optimize all” will crash even a shiny new and fresh install of WordPress into the white pages of death. If the aforementioned didn’t crash it, enabling Memory Cache on the WordPress instance will most certainly crash it. After much frittering around I did manage to get the plugin to work but only in rather limited situations I’ve found. It is my belief A2 Hosting should seriously consider removing the plugin as it is I believe impacting their brand.
I’m also a little bit disappointed with how they have structured their so called “any time” refund policy. Within 30 days, you can get a full refund, after 30 days however, what they will do is re-bill you at the regular rate for the rest of the paid up period then give you what is left. I struggle to think of anyone who will be (willingly) paying regular rate given the performance I’ve seen of their shared hosting product. I have to admit, this has darkened my regard I have towards the A2 Hosting brand.
I have now requested a cancellation and refund under A2 hosting’s 30 day risk free policy. Given prior experience with Shared hosts and my impression of some of the way A2 Hosting do things, I don’t have enough faith to see out the full 3 years with them
I have to admit, over the years, I’ve started really souring of Shared hosting in general and believe it should be left for only of the most insignificant of web projects (Personal websites). Sure, if you are a largely a neighbourhood bricks and mortar (Vet Clinic, Dentist, Hairdresser, etc) business and just need a site with a handful of static pages (and may be a blog, but would argue at a stretch) then Shared Hosting may be Okay.
If on the other hand you’re a business who is almost entirely dependent on the web, it should go without saying you shouldn’t be using budget shared hosting… ever. Unfortunately, I see many businesses and online only retailers for what ever in their right signing up for shared hosting, installing Woo Commerce / Presta shop and once their site goes down or goes slow, they are seen screaming to high heaven on all the support channels and web hosting forums begging for a resolution.
Update: June 2019 – Thrifty Australian Head Office have also since been notified and have advised they have since started working with their Dandenong based Licensee, Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd, to gradually remove the offending reviews posted by franchise staff.
Have also been fielding the occasional E-mail from those purporting to be past employees of Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd, describing Working Conditions, Internal Culture issues, etc, however have chosen not to elaborate on those here in this particular blog post.
Topping off personally my single most disappointing consumer experience to date either side of the Tasman that I can recall… upon looking to place a review regarding my last hire experience with Thrifty Car Rental out of Mickelham Road, (Melbourne), discovered that the franchise owner along with certain senior staff of franchise operation Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd, had posted several of their own reviews whilst failing to disclose their commercial and/or employment connection to the business…
Lawrence (Vic.) Pty Ltd. T/A Thrifty Vic Car and Truck rental – Glenn Lawrence… “Personally I think that these guys are the best rental company in Victoria. They always have great service a delivery on time with a smile. I would recommend them to anybody.“
– Source: Google Maps (This has since been removed upon advising I had referred the matter to the ACCC and CAV)
…Being the owner, of course he would think and say that about his own business. Some disclosure in his review would have been nice.
Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd’s Chief Financial Officer, Peter Sowinski, was also discovered to have placed multiple 5 star ratings of a number of Thrifty Car and Truck rental locations…
Some more ratings placed by the same individual. He has placed 5 star ratings on at least 8 (possibly more) locations owned by Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd along with 5 star ratings for a handful of other Thrifty Locations owned by other business units.
Also came across this… Known employees (confirmed upon glancing at their profiles) including the owner of Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd are seen posting fake ratings and reviews for Thrifty Vehicle Sales location that they operate in Dandenong. (These have since been removed in haste upon advising I have turned the matter over to the ACCC and Consumer Affairs Victoria)
Furthermore, if you glance at the rest of the profiles from where the ratings and reviews have come from, quite a few of them I feel appeared (at least to me) to be from direct friends to one of the Staff in question (Profiles liking and commenting on posts from the staffer’s profile and vice versa or more apparent, the staffer appearing on the friends widget of those profiles).
More Lawrence Thrifty staff posting positive reviews, this time for Thrifty Weipa. (While this may be a different business unit to Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd, they are still part of the Australian Thrifty Car Rental network and any such review should disclose this)
An older review from 3 years ago posted by another employee of Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd…
Here’s a more recent glowing review for Thrifty Car and Truck Rental for Footscray…
(the statement “…team that works together to achieve their goals” caught my eye as it’s not normally something posted by a genuine customer)
(The review below was quickly removed after I posted a temporary review publicly challenging it)
From then I looked at the reviewer’s other review for Coles Express, a service station very close by Thrifty Car and Truck Rental Footscray where he mentions “…as part of my job for a rental car company…”
…All the above fake reviews were the ones that were known about and could be directly linked to Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd personnel.
The last fake testimonial above was only caught by virtue that the staff member in question had posted in another review mentioning he worked for a rental car company.
In my mind, it certainly raises the question… How many of the other customer testimonials could also be fake or otherwise have been posted by Thrifty Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd personnel?
Wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd management possibly encouraged their employees to engage in the practice particularly since the owner himself was seen placing at least a couple of his own fake reviews.
Reviews posted to Lawrence Vic Pty ltd. New location: Thrifty Coburg in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. While an individual review from a profile where this is their only review is not sufficient by itself to raise a red flag, the ratio of such reviews do raise a red flag with me.
The reason why this looks fishy…
The ratio. Out of 6 total reviews, 3 were made by reviewers with only 1 review,
One of them being especially and suspiciously hyperbolic. “Wow, what an experience” is a sizable red flag to me as such reviews have in the past often been found to be fake upon my own investigation. How often would one be so over the moon renting from a car hire place?
A 4th review was made by a reviewer who has a total of 4 Google reviews to her name. However, out of those 5 reviews, 4 of them are for Thrifty locations all operated by Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd, another red flag…
There is a Michael Nguyen who works as a manager for Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd’s Thrifty Footscray location. Whether he is the same Michael Nguyen who posted this (in my view) rather anomalous review for Thrifty Vehicle Sales Dandenong is not able to be definitively confirmed as there are a ton of People called Michael Nguyen in the Melbourne Area.
While I acknowledge that Lawrence Vic Pty ltd isn’t alone in such antics (Far from it), Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd is the first business (that isn’t an outright cold calling boiler room “wire” scam operation) who I have both personally had any sort of interaction with and seen engaging in the posting of falsified testimonials.
Overall my hire experience with Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd was far removed from my usually smooth hire experience under the Thrifty brand in Australia. I will admit to totally letting my guard down in this instance due to trust built up from multiple positive hiring experiences before hand under the Thrifty brand. Issues with the Lawrence Franchise included…
Failure to disclose upfront the full fee structure in their written legal documentation in respect to minor damage caused by a small Roo jumping into the side of the vehicle. An undisclosed and non-specific 3.5% Administrative fee was levied on top of other Administrative fees and was not disclosed to me verbally nor in writing. (I understand as of September 2020, Thrifty Australia have now rewritten their Terms and Conditions to better disclose this to cover their network of outlets and franchises, however, was not disclosed as per their terms and conditions as of 2018 at the time of the hire)
Upon contacting the Licensee’s HQ at Dandenong thinking that these matters would be easy to clarify, I was instead met with a defensive attitude from one of their accountants (who I now learn has since left the organization) with the chain of communication abruptly closing at “Thanks for your feedback on our disclosure” with no further attempt by Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd to explain or otherwise point out where in the written agreement these charges applied.
Failure to provide a copy of the agreement at initiation of the hire requiring several follow ups. (This doesn’t appear to be an isolated incident with Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd.)
Upon eventual receipt of the above, discovered a break down add on I never requested and which I strongly believe was snuck on by the RSO under IMO obvious pressure by his bosses to meet his monthly sales target. The RSO agent I strongly believe highlighted the agreement in such a way to conceal this and had most certainly purposely drew my attention away from it during the walk through of the said agreement.
On presenting a New Zealand Driver’s license, Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd demanded 2 x Australian Phone numbers and an Australian Address. No where was this stated anywhere on booking nor the unified thrifty.com.au Website. This is different from Thrifty Melbourne Airport and Thrifty Melbourne city (Spencer st) where no such requirement exists.
Their employment ads suggest a rather Sales driven culture I feel (“…totally focused on achieving targets and budgets”) and this has been emphasized in Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd’s ads far more than for Front line roles advertised by other Vehicle Rental agencies (operating under the Thrifty banner or otherwise) I feel.
I have also since dropped a note to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) to let them know of Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd’s conduct.
If would be fair to say that I hold the management of Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd personally responsible for the matters arising out of my hire with them. Nor have I ruled out possibly taking out a case against Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) when I’m next back over the ditch on business.
To date, this remains by far and away my single most acrimonious experience as a customer to any business either side of the Tasman. I would expect to see these sorts of business antics 20 years ago in Mainland China (when things there were less developed) and not in a country such as Australia.
While I have since continued to rent through other ‘Thrifty’ branded business units in Australia without experiencing anywhere near the same sorts of issues, my continued custom with Thrifty as a brand is now under review (particularly so now that NZ AA and Thrifty Australia between them seems to have ended the hire car deals for us NZ AA Members).
In a nutshell… I consider trust extremely important in any transaction I undertake and Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd through their conduct I feel have completely failed to demonstrate this.